Bengt Hambræus's interests and activities - as an organist, educator, composer, musicologist, radio producer, and writer - have encompassed such diverse musical fields that when we set out to create a list of suitable topics for our contributors, we found the task intractable. Instead we chose to give the contributors - some of his past and present colleagues, former students, and old and new friends from Canada, the United States, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany - only general guidelines with respect to form, content, and style. The resulting twenty-eight pieces reflect a number of Bengt's interests and also include analyses of some of his works, personal accounts of friendship, and lists of his works and publications.
We have divided the texts roughly into four major sections (although some of the texts in different sections merge): aesthetics and ideology, music history, World Music, and analysis, all preceded by three very personal texts representing three important aspects of Bengt's activities: The composer of church music - we have included two personal responses to three of Bengt's large-scale sacral compositions (we let the second of these texts conclude the book); the pedagogue - he spent some twenty-five years teaching at McGill University; and the broadcaster (Bengt once claimed that his years at the Swedish Radio were the best post-doctoral education he could ever have received).
The title we chose for this collection is not merely a reference to Bengt's attraction to counterpoint both as a composer and pedagogue, but also alludes to the breadth of his interests and to the ways in which these many interests interrelate and intersect, as suggested in Bengt's open-ended statement dealing with the ideology of "High Art" and with the dichotomy between theory and practice:
Discussion about the function and purpose of music will probably never cease to exist. Science or entertainment? According to a famous medieval allegoric picture of the seven free arts of philosophy, music is situated between dialectics and arithmetics, thus between a logically formulated rhetoric (content) and a mathematical predictability (formal structure and time); in other words, between the humanities and natural science. At that time, of course, no one could have predicted the immense development that now, some thousand years later, would strike mankind, on technically advanced super highways, with a commercialized music market and with a disabling mass hysteria as a well calculated result (not only thinking of Michael Jackson!) .The continuation of this article could well be seen as Bengt's philosophy as a musician and pedagogue:
Undoubtedly, this mega-market is a result of free enterprise in a free market (which, even in the case of music, could be as corrupt as any other business!). At the same time, we must not forget the important counter-argument: if there are no windows, doors or emergency exits from the academically correct ivory tower, there is a risk that the philosopher forgets that he is a human being among other human beings.
The second historical section includes articles relating to musical life in Sweden during the 1950s and 60s, as well as to the reception of Bengt's own music during the 50s.
The third section is devoted to ethnomusicology, which has been of great interest to Bengt since his childhood when he listened to the BBC's short-wave broadcasts of music from throughout the world. He later participated in recording sessions of folk music with the Swedish Radio. His own understanding and definition of World Music eventually widened to include all music. In his own comments for his Nocturnals for chamber ensemble, he writes:
I have always been interested in alternative musical traditions, particularly such traditions as developed outside the traditional Western repertoire. I received the earliest and most important impressions in this respect while very young, in the beginning of the 1930s, in the peculiar "Soundscape" in one of Dalecarlia's deserted fäbod forests, where silence was interrupted only by the sound of the wind in the pine trees, by the calls of the birds and by the sound of the cow bells, by mooing and by herding calls from close and far away. Sound from cutting axes but no chain saws. Working horses, but no cars or tractors; no airplanes, electricity, telephone, radio or TV. It was not until many years later that I became conscious that all this, what I considered to be environmentally natural sounds, actually was an acoustic trigger for all my compositions, and has guided me through electro-acoustic studios and new organ sounds, as well as traditional forms of ensembles, including voices and instruments. During that time I also got in touch with worlds of music, rich in traditions, from Asia and with other authentic folk musics from different parts of the world - Asia, Africa, Latin/South America; Sweden, Spain, Balkan; Georgia and Tibet; Japan, Korea, Vietnam. All this was an enriching complement to the plentiful European tradition from early mediaeval times to the present.The articles in this section deal with "Green composition," the transformation of the Sami Yoik, and Bengt's own application of World Music in his Piano Concerto.
The analytical portion includes texts on the music of J. S. Bach and Karlheinz Stockhausen, as well as analyses of works by Bengt Hambræus. The two final texts present a list of Bengt's compositions and a select bibliography of his writings.
A number of people helped distribute the invitation to subscribe: Åsa Wallner at the Royal Academy of Music, Catarina Brisholm and Kristina Westman at the office of the Society for Swedish Composers, Marianne Lundqvist at the Swedish Musicological Society, Catrina Flint de Médicis at McGill University, Joakim Tillman at Stockholm University, and the editors of Orgelforum and Kyrkomusikernas Tidning. Ronald Zerpe at Luleå University of Technology and Christer Bouij were very helpful with our typographical questions and the Department of Musicology at Stockholm University provided us with technical assistance. And, of course, we are most thankful for the efforts of the contributors.
With admiration, affection, and gratitude we offer this book to Bengt Hambræus. May you enjoy reading it as much as your friends have enjoyed preparing it.
Per F. Broman--Nora A. Engebretsen--Bo Alphonce
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